tv The Stream Al Jazeera December 25, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EST
i'm lisa fletcher, and you're in "the stream." what's the right equation to help students learn. here's the formula, and it has many rethinking the future of education. >> we bring in your voice and all of your live feedback throughout the show. in the 1920s everybody thought radio was the tool that was going to transform learning, and now people are looking to online education for this. >> we have this thing call the internet, and the online
community is informed and educated and excited to have sal on today's show. brianna says he helped me pass organic chemistry, but there is skepticism. how do you get online ed to be as respected as formal, in-class education. it isn't always taken seriously. there's some concern here. anna says a noble goal indeed, but wrl the funding come from. latino politics says in one capacity i work on online education and one problem is the assumption that technology will allegedly fix everything. finally, derek says, this will put more teaching power in the hands of parents taking the power away from the narrow vision of the education system. we're not short of opinions today, lisa. >> no, we're not, and we'll get sal to comment on as many of those as possible. he's one of the most famous tutors willing to help anyone anywhere learn almost anything at zero cost. he's the mastermind between khan
academy, one of the most popular online learning sites. all the funding comes from donations big and small. 10 million users log onto the web page each month to learn fl basic instructional videos like this one using the same concepts he employs to help young family members with math. the process allows students to learn at their own pace. khan says it's more than videos. he's a huge supporter of the flipped classroom using school time to reinforce what they're learning online. critics worry the virtual approach takes away from the ability of students to ask questions and reduces the role of teachers. what will it take to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere and is online the answer? sal joins us. welcome back to "the stream." >> great to be here. >> khan academy was founded in '08 and has been on an unbelievable trajectory. for those not familiar bring
people up to speed to this global education revolution. >> back in 2004 i was an analyst in an investment firm at the time. my cousin was visiting from new orleans where i was born and raised. it came out of conversation she was having trouble in math. i offered to tutor her. i worked with her every day after work. long store short, it worked out. she went from having trouble in math to getting caught up to getting ahead of the curve. i worked with her younger brothers, and then a couple of things happened. about two years go by, and word gets around in the family that free tutoring is going on. i found myself with about 10, 15 cousins and family and friends all over the country every day after work trying to work with. i started to write software for them to give them quiz
questionses to see how they were doing. that was the first champion khan academy. in 2006 i was showing this to a friend, and by this point we moved out here to silicon valley. he said this is grael, sal. you're probably having trouble scaling up your tutor yals. make lessons has videos and put it on youtube. i told them youtube is for dogs on skateboards and cats playing piano and not for serious mathematics. i got over the idea and gave it a shot. long story short from the first few videos in november of 2006, it became clear people who were not my kuz sglins were watching. by 2008-09 i set it up as a not for profit. at that point about 100,000 people were using the site. my wife and i sat down and had savings enough to try this for a year, and kind of took the plunge. i quit my job and said, look, hopefully someone realizes the social return here, the not for
profit, is fairly large. it wasn't until about 2010 that we got the first real support from the gates foundation, from ann and john dorer and google. we're at 10 million users per month and we're pushing 55, 56 people in our organization. >> this is about so much more than you. you have a fairly large organization and developing sophisticated research-based tools to personalized lirning for everyone from kids to ph.d.s. talk about the behind of scenes process. you're covering such a broad base of materials. >> it's interesting as we talked about, a lot of what people know about khan academy is starting with my cousins and making videos. they have always been popular and continue to be popular, but when i made the first few presentations to the gates foundation and google, videos are nice and i think every now and then an on-demand education
is a good thing. people have to learn at their own pace and have a lot of problem sets and struggle with things. there should be community where they should interact with each other. we should personalize things for the student. most of the resources for the last three years have been building a world class software engineering team and working with researchers in house and various universities. right now our content is being developed in conjunction with about 30 researchers, educators, content instructional specialists making sure that as khan academy grows we have a fum -- especially in mathematics a collections of deep resources. >> sal, it seems that the community is suggesting that online education is the future. the concern is access to those in our communities who don't have computers or tools. our facebook and twitter community is really talking about this. jose says my concern is with the have notes. the education gap will widen without access to tools at
school. many black children have little to no online access. millions of children will be left out. unspoken politics. poor kids enter school already behind and the deficit grows. freon -- free online education can give them a better chance. so you're no longer cousin sal but yoda sal. everybody looks at you to fix this broken education system. how do we help communities of color, low income communities and poor kids without access to online technology to computers? >> it's a very serious problem we think a lot about it. we're set up as a not for profit and a free world class education for anyone anywhere. the reality today is if you go in an affluent neighborhood and down to google and ask parents how many of you use khan academy, 90% raise their hands. if we go to east palo alto or oakland, a lot haven't heard of
it or don't have access to it in school or home. it's a very serious problem for us. there's this kind of classic chicken and egg problem where people have been rightfully skeptical of air-dropping ipads or laptops into a school. this is expensive and we're resource con strained. what do we do with the things? because they weren't in the classroom, a lot of resources weren't tested to see what can work. so we're hoping -- once again, it's not solved tomorrow. it will be solved over the next five ten years as the cost of broadband comes down and devices comes down and people see this can move the dial. i think there's a rightful amount of skepticism that technology isn't a cure-all. you can't put in some screens and computers in rooms and all of a sudden everything will happen. we have to show that it absolutely can move the dial. once that happens, then i think there will be the hunger and the
demand for it to reach more people. >> sal, khan academy launched a deal with comcast to address some issues. talk a little bit about that. >> yeah. this was actually one of the comcast board members. i was giving a talk, and i think it connected in her mind that, gee, they've always had this program where they were trying to deliver low-cost internet to communities of need. their surveys and their research that they did, they saw the reason why people weren't adopting that is because they didn't see the value of it for their family or children. they immediately saw, gee, when there are resources like khan academy out there for free, this should drive more adoption especially in communities that weren't aware what the internet could do for them. they reached out to us, and we're a 50% organization. comcast is several hundred thousand person organization. it's a scary set of talks for
us. you know, they've been genuine that they really want to increase reach. a lot of this partnership, they're providing direct support for us as a not for profit. on top of that, they provide direct and free public service anaunsmentes to build awareness so it's not just google employees that know about khan academy. it's people in east palo alto or newark or wherever it might be. aulsz to build awareness they have that program for low-cost internet. this is a non-exclusive deal. we want to do this with anyone who is able to build awareness and hopefully give access at a more affordable price. >> sal, there's healthy skepticism, if you will, criticism from the community, some concerns. justin says do you have any concerns about the growing field of online education? only if what is available on online is correct, not properly researched or outright false. that can be seen in any school. amy says there's little interaction with other students
online. iris says it's free for now. not that everyone knows it, but it won't be free for long. here's an educator. give her a listen. >> i'm amy brookman from georgia tech. now that some of the hype about it has died down, it's clear there's nothing new about the phenomenon, the tradition of distance education goes back to 19th century correspondence courses. there is graeat potential here, but taking advantage will require some really sound pedigogy and more involved from people with a strong background in education research. >> sal, you've heard throughout your career if you're not an accredited teacher or educator, why should we listen to you to help guide us with the future of u.s. education? >> so, you know, i guess -- hearing some of the comments, there's a big picture misconception around online
education, or at least the way we perceive online education. we don't think that anyone's education should be completely online. i have young children. my son is about to enter kindergarten, and i don't want him in front of a screen all day not interacting with folks. we talk about how to use these tools -- some of these ideas are not new, but how can we use them to make the physical classroom for human and interactive. right now kids sit in desks with fingers on their lip waiting for the bell to ring, that's very noninteract and passive and non-human. let's see if we can let students learn at their own pace. we can arm the teachers with data and electrics tur is no longer the focal point of the classroom. it's now students teaching each other and doing projects and teachers have conversations with the class as a whole, teachers doing one on one interventions with students and really forming
connections with students. for us it's about how do we leverage technology with physical and how do we blend the two together to get a more human experience. in terms of, you know, who is making the content and what are the -- are they researchers or instructional experts? is it me? our vee at khan academy have been a very pragmatic one. it started with me, someone with a background in engineering and finance, helping their family. as we have grown -- that got traction and gave us a voice. but as we've grown, we've definitely tried to reach out to people in all domains. people with ph.d.s in education and cognitive science and people who are coming out of the business world. people who are coming out of the tech world. anyone who has something to contribute to that, we want to mix that altogether so that we can come up with the best product. what's interesting to us is this is the first time. we have 5 million exercises done on khan academy today. so we are already working with
researchers, and we haven't seen that type of data before. so we can test things. as we speak, we're running 0 experiments on champion -- khan academy to tweak the system and say, what happens to students' learning and retention? some is based on existing literature, and some in the next few months is new lit tear. there's new published research based on the data on the platform. for us, it's a collaborative effort to use data, to be data-focused and also use our reach to make the best possible resources. >> you have the skills but not the degree. will you get the job? what does sal think virtual education means for real world's job hunters? he will answer that and a bunch of other economies from our community when we come back.
our community loves sal and love khan academy and this topic. >> using the flip model rather than strictly online gives you the best of both worlds of the christian says increased access for those without resources and a style to fit direct instruction, that's the props of the khan academy model. ali says this provides an access point for people all over the globe for free. now joining the conversation with members of the online community who have questions for sal. she uses khan academy as she attending graduate school. josh frazier developed online training programs for teachers. kristin winkler has a blog focusing on education and teblg nolg. kristen, you're up first. your question for sal. go for it. >> sal, so with the obvious for the s.t.e.m. subjects, there's
increasing group of educators who want to add the a standing for the arts to that and call it s.t.e.a.m. sometime back you brought in the founders of s.m.a.r.t. history into khan academy. do you think expanding into other subject matters anytime soon and maybe second half my question, do you think you would have been equally as successful, say, if you would have started off creating french lessons and creative videos? >> yeah. so as you mentioned about two and a half years we brought in beth harris and stephen zuker, these amazing art historians to make art history videos. the whole point there was to make sure that we are looking at
the whole human being, not just the right or left brain. obviously, the core focus of khan academy continues to be primarily mathematics and math-related fields in the sciences. our hope is it really can be kind of addressing the whole human being, and that's why we invested so much in art history and beth and stephen have partnerships with the getty. we want to bring that out. in terms of whether we got this traction if i started making art videos, i would guess probably not. you know, i think it was because especially in math, so many -- it's just a gating factor for so many people. some many fail algebra and cals includes and physics. there was that latent demand over there. the way i found out about beth and stephen, and this was two or three years ago. there was an announcement about
funding we received. beth sent out a snarky tweet saying we should have made math videos. this is brilliant stuff and they have conversations that make you want to participate and have an opinion about the art. we did a not-for-profit merger, which essentially we gave them jobs. >> you're a grad student and a user of khan academy. you have a question for sal. >> yes. hi, sal. i am a graduate student and i've found your videos to be very helpful in some courses. my question is have teachers become a luxury? also, how has khan academy changed education in underprivileged areas around the world, and how can you translate your unique educating style personality into another language? >> yes. on the first question, i mean, you know, my point of view is that actually in a -- if a student has nothing. if they don't have access to a
school and are in a village in the world, hopefully khan academy can raise the floor. in my mind it increases the importance of a teacher. in a traditional model if a teacher is giving a lecture, how far does that connect with the student? now the model that we talk about, the teacher goes deeper and forms connections with students. instead, they see the data of where all the students are. when are they ready for a conversation and project? i see the teacher as more essential in a blended learning model, if a student has some access. as you mentioned, there are parts of the world where people have very little. we are starting to partner with other groups in latin america, the lemon foundation in brazil and the carlos sims foundation in mexico and groups in france and turkey and all over the
world to internationalize khan academy. we launched eskhanacademy.org. how do we translate when the videos are redone in another language. it's a fascinating process. i say the phrase beat a dead horse a lot. it doesn't translate well in other languages. it's a learning process, but we found some excellent partners not just to redo the site essentially in other languages but to think about how can they help bring this to the members of their community who need it the most. >> do you worry that khan academy is growing too fast and getting too big? >> yeah. you know, i think one of the reasons why -- i set this up as a not-for-profit is i didn't want this to fall into the classic silicon valley flash in the pan super hyper growth for two or three or four years. my dream is that in 50 years,
100 years, 500 years people view khan academy as an institution for the world, and for part of that -- one thing that we're always talking about with the boards is how to you make sure it's around. several people brought up how it's paid for. this keeps me up at night. right now it's supported from small donors to large dorn don ors like the gates foundation. i want to make sure it's always there and we never have to put -- we never have to think about commercializing. we never have to think about in any way putting up gates for people to access this. we view this as a fundamental human right. >> we pause right here for a second for a quick break, and we'll be right back.
bill nye the science guy here. not only am i moving around the world, i'm flowing with "the stream." >> yes, he is. welcome back. s salman khan is with us talking online education. sal, you've got a great view of the current situation with education in the u.s. if there are one or two things you could change, what would they be? >> well, that's a big question. i think the big thing is if we could move to a model that kind of breaks out of this 200-year-old factory model where every student isded together at the same pace. right now they're shepherded into the next concept that builds on that negative components ensuring that they will hit a wall and have gaps in knowledge, which is the reason
we have so many people having trouble especially with s.t.e.m. courses. i would make lecture no longer the focal point of the classroom. i would make student interactions and project and conversation the focal point of the classroom. in that world it's no longer about how long you spent in a seed. it's about what level of achievement you have or competency based and portfolio based. what have you created and what robot have you built and what novel have been written. those are the credentials that are far more interesting. >> i'll go to the final guest. josh frazier, school curriculum specialist, ask your question of sal. >> first off, i wanted to say i'm a big fan and i'm actually one of those students that your videos actually helped. what do you think is the next evolutionary step for online instruction and online learning? >> i think this is something we're working super deeply on,
real personalization. i think all of the online learning to date has been to some degree mapping what happens in a traditional experience, which is you have lectures. khan academy made the lectures shorter and they're easier to find, but there are lectures and problem sets. i think the real next evolution is using the same type of technology that amazon.com might use to tweak. if we can translate that to education, to increase the chances for someone to learn this concept. maybe this video is appropriate for them, while person b this set of exercises or simulation is appropriate for them. i hope over the next five or ten years everyone feels like the education is catering to them as opposed to shaping themselves to education. >> we have about 45 seconds left. what surprised you most on this journey? >> you know, when i started this, i was making it for my cousins and a lot of the videos i made, this is something i
would have liked when i was in middle school or in high school or college. so i assumed this will work for kids self-motivated who want to learn. when we get the testimonials here, we see they're from kids who were disengage or about to disengage and thought they hated math. it's not 5% or 10% or 20% but i think it's 90% or 95%. so it makes me hopeful of the future. we can increase by a factor of 10 2or 20 the number of people that understand science and technology and the arts. >> that's all the time we have for this conversation. thank you so much for joining us, and thanks to everyone in our google hangout. until next time, we will see all online.
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